Family Area/Living Room
Buff Strickland

Uncovering Potential

Every home seems to have one problem area that needs just a little attention to blossom to its fullest potential. Like many families with older homes, we have a running to-do list on the refrigerator, and at the top of our list was one room in particular. The space in question simply connected two other rooms. But I wanted to transform it into an inviting family area. I decided to tackle the project in one weekend.

Stone Veneer and Brick Fireplace
Buff Strickland

Fireplace Facade

I love greeting autumn with a fire in the fireplace and wanted that to be the room's focal point. To cover the worn and tired existing brick surround, I found a stone veneer online at that was a snap to apply. We applied the stone veneer to the brick fireplace with mortar, separating the stones with wooden paint sticks to keep them aligned. We followed our instincts when arranging the stones and used sand-toned grout to finish it off. By the end of day one, the fireplace was completely transformed.

Beaded-board Wainscot Added to the Lower Walls
Buff Strickland

Day Two

Adding an architectural detail to a wall can make a dramatic difference in any room. So the following day we purchased panels of beaded-board wainscot, available at most home-supply stores, for the lower half of the walls. We nailed them around the whole room at a height of 5 feet (about 2 feet higher than a traditional chair rail). Then we chose simple pine moldings for the cap and added a bonus -- a ledge on top for leaning artwork and family photos.

Adding Color to the Room with Fabrics, Paint, & Trim
Buff Strickland

Paint and Trim

Next, the room needed color. Because I mixed patterns and florals in the fabrics, I wanted to work with a simple neutral palette for the walls and trim. We chose one color for the beaded board and trim and painted the walls and ceiling a similar color that was several shades lighter. Using the light and slightly darker shades together created the illusion of additional height. Mixing fabric patterns such as florals, stripes, and other prints may seem like a no-no at first, but the combination lends interest and texture to a room.

A Ledge with Candles
Buff Strickland

Add a Handy Ledge

Place a small strip of trim to the top of the wainscot. We created this cap using two pieces of simple rectangular molding butted against each other. Use the shelf to lean artwork, display collectibles, or even hold votive candles.

Inviting Livingroom
Buff Strickland

Stephen's Tips

• While the look of this makeover is airy, you can reverse the color scheme for a more cozy feel: Use darker shades on the upper walls and ceiling, and lighter tones on lower walls.

• Arrange furniture to create an area intimate enough for one person or inviting for guests to sit around and chat.

• Combine new and old collected items with small framed family photos for a more personal touch.

• Combine dark tones (like a steamer trunk) with lighter tones (like the sofa shown at left) to bring contrast into the room.

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